The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Harman, "No more spin". Blair, "What spin ?"

Yesterday, Minister for Justice, Harriet Harman was lamenting the press and the government’s approach to it, "We have to do our politics differently, the old embedded habits of briefing the press has got to change and we have to be very open, stop the spin, stop the briefing and respect Parliament."

Meanwhile, across the way, Blair was berating the state of political reporting - the closest he got to admitting “spin” may have something to do with it was, “I first acknowledge my own complicity. We paid inordinate attention in the early days of New Labour to courting, assuaging, and persuading the media”

Amazingly, he blames the simplification and exaggeration of today's press on technology, the speed of communications and the need for “impact”. He says things have got to change. No mention of the words “we'll change", or "we'll stop our institutionalised lying to the press”.

Bear this in mind when you read the full speech to really appreciate how persuasive the man is. You almost feel like he's fessed up, when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.


  1. Trouble is Harman is right and Blair is wrong but Harman is such a bloody wally I don't believe that her 'right' isn't just more spin.

  2. You think the current government spin is something? You think getting to the truth in some of the issues you have raised is a task. Try asking any questions about the Duchy of Cornwall, which has the unusual ability to be a body of governance when it suits it, but a private landed estate when it comes to the FOI act. Spin that has taken a British territory and turned it into a private property company.

    I tried to e-mail the creators of this great blog but the e-mail address does not work.

    Just to say that the civil rights group, The Cornish Stannary Parliament, now carries a link to your blog on their website:

    Truth is a business you share with them so have a look.

  3. The Power Inquiry
    Southbank House
    Black Prince Road
    London SE1 7SJ

    19 of June 2007

    Dear Sir/Madam

    I am writing to ask for your aid and advice on understanding one of the constitutional issues within the UK. I am a Cornish UK citizen and my query relates to the relationship between the County of Cornwall and the Duchy of Cornwall. I believe it to be in the best interests of all residents of Cornwall including the Celtic Cornish ethnic minority to have a clear and complete description of the relationship between the Duchy and Cornwall. Obtaining this; however, has so far proved impossible. I have, in the past, contacted the Duchy of Cornwall, Cornwall County Council, the Department of Constitutional Affairs and other government offices, none of whom have been able or willing to provide a comprehensive answer that addresses all the facts.

    You will note I have CC the question to a list of these government bodies once more and I would welcome any feedback they are prepared to give. If it would help I would happily request the information I require under the Freedom of Informations act, please let me know if you think this a good idea.

    If we look at the Duchy of Cornwall website we see the following claim:

    “The Duchy of Cornwall is a well-managed private estate which funds the public, charitable and private activities of The Prince of Wales and his family. The Duchy consists of around 54,764 hectares of land in 22 counties, mostly in the South West of England”

    No mention of a relationship with the county and territory of Cornwall here or anywhere else on the site. Yet if we check the government website for Bona Vacantia we find the following:

    “If the company's last registered office and the asset was in the Duchies of Cornwall or Lancashire its assets fall to be dealt with by Messrs Farrer & Co, Solicitors, of 66 Lincolns Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LH. The Duchy of Cornwall comprises the County of Cornwall. The Duchy of Lancaster comprises the Counties of Lancashire, Merseyside and parts of Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Cumbria. Further details as to the precise boundaries of the Duchy can be obtained from the Duchy Office, 1 Lancaster Place, Strand, London WC2E 7ED (tel: 020 7836 8277).”

    It seems no coherent description of the Duchy is available. In the book "The Cornish Question" by Mark Sandford that was published by the Constitutional Unit, School of Public Policy, University College London in 2002 it states that -

    "The existence of the Duchy of Cornwall was once of constitutional significance, but is now essentially a commercial organisation"

    Considering that this commercial organisation is the largest landowner in Cornwall and claims to be nothing but a private estate and company, you would think it reasonable to expect there to be an official date of change-over from an official body of constitutional significance into a purely private commercial organisation.

    In the Cornwall Submarine Mines Act 1858 it states that the Duchy of Cornwall is a 'territorial possession' of Britain.

    So, sometime between 1858 and the present day, a territory of Britain transformed into a private commercial organization, when, if at all, did this happen?

    A court case in 1828, A trial at Bar (Rowe v. Brenton) it was affirmed that everything connected with the Duchy is "of public interest", and "all the Kingdom should take notice". Quite rightly so considering the Duchy of Cornwall is a territory of Britain. Yet when Cornish MP Andrew George raised questions on the 16th June 1997 about the affairs of the Duchy he was told that there is an injunction in the House of Commons that prevents such questions being raised, how can this be?

    In The Annual Accounts of the Duchy of Cornwall 1998, it states that `-

    "Accounts are prepared in accordance with instructions issued by H.M. Treasury. The Duchy's primary function is to provide an income for present and future Dukes of Cornwall. The Duke is only entitled to the net income"

    This means the Treasury deals with the Duchy as if it were a government department. So how can the Duke of Cornwall be the owner of a private estate?

    In the 19th century the legal arguments of Duchy officials, defeated the Crown's aspirations of sovereignty of the Cornish foreshore. The Duchy of Cornwall argued that the Duke has sovereignty of Cornwall and not the Crown.

    On behalf of the Duchy in its successful action against the Crown, which resulted in the Cornwall Submarine Mines Act of 1858, Sir George Harrison (Attorney General for Cornwall) makes this submission.

    That Cornwall, like Wales, was at the time of the Conquest, and was subsequently treated in many respects as distinct from England.

    That it was held by the Earls of Cornwall with the rights and prerogative of a County Palatine, as far as regarded the Seignory or territorial dominion.

    That the Dukes of Cornwall have from the creation of the Duchy enjoyed the rights and prerogatives of a County Palatine, as far as regarded seignory or territorial dominion, and that to a great extent by Earls.

    That when the Earldom was augmented into a Duchy, the circumstances attending to it's creation, as well as the language of the Duchy Charter, not only support and confirm natural presumption, that the new and higher title was to be accompanied with at least as great dignity, power, and prerogative as the Earls enjoyed, but also afforded evidence that the Duchy was to be invested with still more extensive rights and privileges.

    The Duchy Charters have always been construed and treated, not merely by the Courts of Judicature, but also by the Legislature of the Country, as having vested in the Dukes of Cornwall the whole territorial interest and dominion of the Crown in and over the entire County of Cornwall.

    This would suggest that Cornwall (the county) is a Duchy.

    In my opinion these are questions that should be deemed important enough to be answered by someone in authority, whether that authority is a Government office, Cornwall County Council or Duchy of Cornwall office, after all, claiming a national territory and making it your own private business is no small affair - on a par with opening the newspaper this morning to find out that Richard Branson suddenly owns Gibraltar as a private business concern - and then reading that it was once a UK protectorate but now it belongs to Virgin - as the only official explanation for the change over. So it is to the Power Inquiry I turn to for aid and advice on this subject. The exact relationship of the Duchy to the territory of Cornwall and the influence the Duchy has within Cornwall are matters of clear public interest, please help in getting to the bottom of this constitutional puzzle.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me by post, telephone or e-mail if you need any further information and I look forward to your response.

    Yours sincerely

    CC to the Duchy of Cornwall, The Department of Constitutional Affairs, Government Office of the South West, Cornwall County Council, Council of Europe, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights